By KYLE LOVERN
MATEWAN – Growing up in the small hamlet of Newtown nestled deep in the mountains in rural Mingo County, Rocky Isaac never dreamed he would one day be drumming for a rock and roll icon.
However his travels and musical talents eventually led him to recording sessions with famed guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
Although Hendrix died in September 18, 1970, at the young age of 28, he was one of the most famous rock guitarists, singers, and songwriters in history. And though his career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music.
Isaac attended old Red Jacket Junior High School and then went on to Matewan High School where he played in the bands at both schools. His family moved to Williamson the first semester of his senior year and then moved deep into the tough urban area of Washington, D.C. for his last semester back in 1962. It was quite a culture shock for a teenager from southern West Virginia.
“The first job I got out of high school was at the Library of Congress and I met a guitar player,” Isaac said. “His name was Fred Long from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He told me he had a little band up in Pennsylvania and why didn’t I come with him. Soon I started driving up with him.”
“The first thing I said to him ‘I’m better than your drummer’,” Isaac said with a sly smile.
“Within about four or five weeks, I went from playing a couple of songs with the band to taking the drummer’s place,” he added.
“In October of 1963 to June of 1964, we were playing seven nights a week at Georgetown in Washington,” said Isaac. “We had the best little rock band around.”
Eventually his friendship with that guitar player introduced him into the rock music world. It was the 1960s and Isaac admits he got into that “scene” like most musicians did.